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Her aunt glanced up startled, and then sat very still, with hands that
had ceased to work. "What makes you ask such a question, Vee?" she said.
Her aunt answered in a low voice: "I was engaged to him, dear, for seven
years, and then he died."
Ann Veronica made a sympathetic little murmur.
"He was in holy orders, and we were to have been married when he got a
living. He was a Wiltshire Edmondshaw, a very old family."
She sat very still.
Ann Veronica hesitated with a question that had leaped up in her mind,
and that she felt was cruel. "Are you sorry you waited, aunt?" she said.
Her aunt was a long time before she answered. "His stipend forbade it,"
she said, and seemed to fall into a train of thought. "It would have
been rash and unwise," she said at the end of a meditation. "What he had
was altogether insufficient."
Ann Veronica looked at the mildly pensive gray eyes and the comfortable,
rather refined face with a penetrating curiosity. Presently her aunt
sighed deeply and looked at the clock. "Time for my Patience," she said.
She got up, put the neat cuffs she had made into her work-basket,
and went to the bureau for the little cards in the morocco case. Ann
Veronica jumped up to get her the card-table. "I haven't seen the new
Patience, dear," she said. "May I sit beside you?"
"It's a very difficult one," said her aunt. "Perhaps you will help me
Ann Veronica did, and also assisted nimbly with the arrangements of the
rows of eight with which the struggle began. Then she sat watching the
play, sometimes offering a helpful suggestion, sometimes letting her
attention wander to the smoothly shining arms she had folded across her
knees just below the edge of the table. She was feeling extraordinarily
well that night, so that the sense of her body was a deep delight, a
realization of a gentle warmth and strength and elastic firmness. Then
she glanced at the cards again, over which her aunt's many-ringed hand
played, and then at the rather weak, rather plump face that surveyed its
It came to Ann Veronica that life was wonderful beyond measure. It
seemed incredible that she and her aunt were, indeed, creatures of the
same blood, only by a birth or so different beings, and part of that
same broad interlacing stream of human life that has invented the fauns
and nymphs, Astarte, Aphrodite, Freya, and all the twining beauty of
the gods. The love-songs of all the ages were singing in her blood, the
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